Heads Up! Upgrading Your PASGT Kevlar Helmet Suspension System

“Concerned American” over at WRSA has asked me numerous times to post something about the upgraded suspension system available for the older PASGT kevlar helmet, which are generally still available on the surplus market. The reason he wanted me to do this is simple. Most people into preparedness (especially if you’ve done it for a while) probably already bought a PASGT helmet a while back, and it just makes sense to perform an upgrade to the suspension, rather than go buy a new ACH type (or worse, a MICH) kevlar helmet that is on the market these days.Helmet post20

Having started out in the type of Airborne units that usually don’t use helmets after the jump in, I didn’t use one a lot for a number of years other than on jumps and on some ranges.

Helmet post19

Early on, certain units I was in required us to use helmets when we conducted certain types of training. When I eventually ended up in an Infantry Company, that became an “All the time” affair while in the field.

Helmet post18

When we transitioned to the ACH (Advanced Combat Helmet) helmet, it was hard to believe that it could be that much more comfortable. The only downside I ever had with the ACH was during cold weather.  The pads have a gel that has to warm up from body heat (a minute or two) before they stop feeling like rocks.

The upgrade I used on one of my old PASGT’s was from Oregon Aero, and it’s called the “BLSS Kit”. The BLSS is available on Amazon, but it’s definitely cheaper when you can get it off of Ebay.

Helmet post22

The upgrade was done to a standard PASGT kevlar helmet with the Parachutist pad and retention straps (Bunny Ears)

Helmet post13

This is the original suspension system. One advantage I found the PASGT had after we transitioned to the ACH was the PASGT’s ability to carry items, that could be immediately useful to a Team or Squad Leader, tucked above the suspension system.

The BLSS kit comes with instructions that are easy to understand and follow. It took me about 30 mins. to do the transition on the helmet. What I can tell you is that this system is as comfortable as the suspension system that came in my ACH helmet. I can also tell you the pads are the same as the ACH,  so the cold weather “warm up” issue I mentioned above, is there with the BLSS too.

As you can see from the pics, both helmets have practically an identical suspension system now. If I had bought both helmet and BLSS off of Ebay, it would have cost me about $130. If you already have a PASGT helmet, it costs you $40 from Ebay, and your PASGT is now as comfortable as an ACH.

Helmet post14

This is what came out of the PASGT helmet before fitting the BLSS. I kept the parachute straps (bunny ears) in the helmet for a goggle retention system, similar to what the ACH has.

Helmet post11

ACH on the left, PASGT with BLSS on the right

Helmet post08

PASGT on left, ACH on right. I usually don’t use the cloth cover unless it’s for snow. Krylon is the paint of choice.

Helmet post05

ACH on left, PASGT on right. Note how the parachute straps help retain the goggle strap.

Helmet post03

ACH on left, PASGT on right. Note that the PASGT has more coverage over the ears than the ACH. The PASGT also has a short brim on the front, and the ACH does not.

Helmet post12

If I’m going to camouflage my helmet, I will use a bit of camo netting, not a cloth cover.

Helmet post09

I just use earth toned shock cord to keep the camo net on. If need be, I can untie the cord and lace it through the camo net.

I know there are those out there who will say, “But the ACH is level IIIA and the PASGT is only II in ballistic protection. Sure, that is absolutely correct. Here’s my question, how many of you know of or have talked to someone who was SHOT IN THE HEAD BY SOMEONE WITH A RIFLE while wearing a helmet, and if you do, did it matter what “level” it was?

Those protection levels mentioned above (level 2 and 3A) are only supposed to stop pistol rounds, but there are examples of soldiers in Grenada (when the PASGT first was fielded in combat) being hit in the head by 7.62x39S bullets from AKs, and it stopped those bullets. Here’s the deal, helmets are designed to stop shrapnel, not bullets from rifles. If you’re lookin’ for a helmet that is guaranteed to stop a rifle round, good luck on your search. We’ll wait………….

Something else to note. Where does the Spec Ops community appear to be going in the coverage department? A lot less side coverage, that’s where. It kinda seems like it’s a diminishing returns kinda thing when you look at what the helmet is meant to do, but…it’s their skull. On another note, helmets will protect you from a lot more than just bullets and shrapnel in a real world encounter, especially if you’re in a vehicle.

When do I plan on using a helmet? First would be during Defensive Operations such as a vehicle check point or overt observation post. The second would be while moving by vehicle. Those are also the only times I’d be using my Interceptor Body Armor or my plate carrier.

I hope this was helpful. If you’ve got a PASGT helmet and you plan on using it, I’d recommend you get the BLSS for it. Is comfort important in something like a helmet? You bet it is. Just like a holster that is comfortable to wear, you are more apt to use/wear it when you need it if it’s not like putting on a “masochist special” every time you wear it.

JCD

“Parata Vivere”-Live Prepared.

 

 

10 thoughts on “Heads Up! Upgrading Your PASGT Kevlar Helmet Suspension System

  1. Pingback: Upgrading Your PASGT Kevlar Helmet Suspension System | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  2. Oregon Aero sent me one of their earliest kits for about the same as E-bay cost; like most things, it was easy to get installed perfectly in the back yard on a sunny day. They are not only much more comfortable than the stock PASGT suspension, they greatly reduce brain trauma from shock that is non-penetrating.

    Thanks for the reminder. New guys might have old gear that needs the upgrade.

    That big human brain is the biggest advantage you have over the world, so invest a little in protecting it!

  3. There are lots of “helmet test” videos on you tube. Almost every kind of “steel pot” will stop a 9X18, 9X19, and .45ACP at less than 25 feet. Some like the old east German “Dick Head” will stop everything up to M1 carbine. Most “Kevlar” won’t do any better. Some like the British Mk.6 is worthless and won’t even stop a 9MM. No helmet will stop any rifle or carbine round at ranges under 600 yards. As you said. Helmets are for stopping Frags, and flying chunks of debris. Not rifle bullets. AND: In the 80’s the last production run of liners for the M-1 steel helmet were made of Kevlar 29. I own three of them. It is the only helmet I have ever seen stop a 7.62X25 From a CZ52.

    • If you do the research, you’ll see a couple soldiers in Grenada were saved when their PASGT kevlars stopped 7.62×39 rounds. Although they weren’t designed and sold as having that capability, they still did.

      • Yes I read that, I think I read the article in “Stars & Stripes , or “Army Times” Probably at moms. She was Army for 25 years. Keep all that stuff But I never remember seeing the photos ??? I know the Army would have taken and published them. Got A link? Also the GEN.1/prototype PASGT from the mid 1970’s until 1981 were almost 10% heavier and somewhat thicker than the later production helmets. My 1977 prototype/test helmet is almost 8MM thicker than my 1986 production PASGT. Could they have been using some of the prototypes? I have never seen documentation one way or the other. I could see a pre production PASGT stopping an AK round. I believe the story,myself, but have never seen it duplicated with a production PASGT.

  4. Good informational essay.

    I “retained” my issue Kevlar when I left active duty. Helmet was special issue size to fit my big pumpkin. The suspension system is original and in need of replacement. Will most likely upgrade as you suggest.

    Several years ago I ordered a Pro-Tec “bike” helmet set up for duty use including NOD shroud and Rhino mount. I use it exclusively for my NODs. The Pro-Tec helmet was readily available then to ANY citizen. Not so today.

    Your essay prompted me to re-visit their website http://www.protechelmet.com. To my chagrin the military-oriented bump helmets are sales restricted now to military and federal employees only ! The screws of .gov control are being wound tighter and tighter against the common citizens.

    My suggestion for those who want a bump helmet, Kevlar, ACH or whatever….get it NOW ! The same advice goes for NODS, thermal and/or IR and any type of body armor. Ammunition is the new “controlled” item. Witness Connecticut ammo tax proposal.

    If you have to take a loan to get any/all of these items, please do so. Do the best you can.

    My sincere thanks to the blog author for this informative and timely essay.

    • Thanks Dan. It doesn’t surprise me about about the restrictions. As you say, they will just get broader in scope. I am always incredulous when an associate or friend gives me the run around concerning the acquisition of items like armor and enhanced vision devices. You can get the small FLIR for around $600! In my opinion, time is short, get it while you can.

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